Is it possible to rent a house 100% online?

The inability to move around outside during the COVID-19 emergency is making the real estate industry look at online options.

30 March 2020, Redaction

Is it possible to rent a property without leaving home and by only using online procedures? The answer, during the health emergency we are experiencing in Italy and beyond, is actually more complex than it would be in ordinary conditions. idealista/news has asked the rental experts at Solo Affitti for further clarification.

Theoretically, all the conditions and tools to sign a rental contract digitally already exist, without the need for the parties (landlord, tenant, real estate agent) to meet physically. This is also the case for sales with virtual visits and video calls now allowing you to "visit" a home without having to leave your sofa, while online procedures and digital signatures allow you to sign and register a rental contract valid for all intents and purposes. Let's have a look at the details step by step.

How to visit a home remotely

Increasingly used, and now among the measures that are essential to continue to operate in the real estate field, are virtual visits, a service that is also offered on the idealista website and is changing the paradigm of the sector itself. Nowadays, technology allows you to visit a house through the screen of a computer, tablet or even from your smartphone.

Isabella Tulipano from the press office of Solo Affitti explained to idealista/news that "real estate agents are able to manage a virtual visit even via a video call with several people connected at the same time, each from their own homes and without the need to meet physically".

How to register a lease online

Once an agreement has been reached between the parties through virtual visits to the house, the rental contract must be registered. But even as far as bureaucratic formalities are concerned, it is not necessary to meet physically, as Isabella Tulipano of Solo Affitti explains: "Even non-expert clients are able to sign documents with digital signatures, as the technological tools to fulfil all obligations electronically have been in place for some time".

When you decide to rent a property, you must also register the contract with Inland Revenue (Agenzia delle Entrate). However, perhaps not everyone knows that this process can also be done online, without necessarily having to go in person to the Inland Revenue offices. To do this, you just need to use the RLI service available on the Inland Revenue website.

This service allows you to register directly online, without installing any software. In order to register, it is necessary to attach a copy of the contract, in TIF, TFF or PDF format. It is not mandatory to attach a copy of the contract, if the following features are present:

  • a residential type of lease
  • the contract is concluded between natural persons who are not acting in the exercise of a business or profession
  • the number of tenants and landlords, respectively, does not exceed three
  • if there is one housing unit and no more than three outbuildings
  • all properties are to be listed with an annuity allocation
  • the contract contains only the rules of the rental relationship and, therefore, does not include any further agreements.

Critical issues during the health emergency

The main problems, however, come from the offline side. Going into detail, the objective impediment does not derive from the bureaucratic part, but from the operational needs. "During the health emergency, it becomes almost impossible to move house - explained Isabella Tulipano from Solo Affitti - because the latest provisions by the government prevent work activities that are not strictly necessary, and companies that operate removals are not among essential services.

Isabella Tulipano, from the press office at Solo Affitti, also explained that there is no single position and that the situation varies between prefectures. Comments from Federtraslochi Piemonte also confirm this:

"Professional companies, among which certainly those registered with Federtraslochi Regionale del Piemonte, continue to operate regularly in full compliance with the regulations, both ordinary and extraordinary ones applicable in this historical period. In spite of the regulations, our associates, out of a sense of civic duty and a feeling of social responsibility, from the very beginning of the emergency, have significantly limited their activity, reserving it only to cases of certified urgency and indifference (for example: sales with cancellation of utilities, more appropriate accommodation for elderly people otherwise isolated due to the health emergency)".

In essence, it is possible to rent a house for short periods without problems, and "many people have opted for the short-term rental of a house where they could spend a period in quarantine before reuniting with their family", Tulipano explains. And the same practice can be used for a long-term rental of a furnished property that doesn't require a move.

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